economy

Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy / UM's Ford School of Public Policy

Michigan's cities, towns, and villages are seeing an overall improvement in their ability to meet their financial needs, but hundreds continue to struggle. That's according to an annual report by the Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy at the University of Michigan's Ford School of Public Policy.

The report finds that smaller municipalities are having a tougher time than those with populations of more than 30,000. And municipalities in central Michigan and the southern lower Peninsula have been particularly hard hit.

inforummichigan.org / Wayne State University

Twenty eight of Michigan's top 100 public companies have no women as directors, executive officers, or in the ranks of the five highest-paid employees. Even among companies with women in top positions, the numbers are small, and the rate of change glacial.

That's according to a report recently released by the Inforum Center for Leadership in Michigan. The report was co-authored by two officers of Inforum and two faculty members at Wayne State University's School of Business Administration.

Meijer

Meijer announced today that they're planning to hire 4,400 part-time workers in Michigan (more in other states). The Grand Rapids-based company says they're hiring in response to company growth and in "in preparation for the fall and holiday selling seasons."

More from their press release:

user: whitneyinchicago / Flickr

We know the question everyone has been asking about the impending arrival of a new member of the British royal family. 

No, of course it's not, will it be a girl or a boy. We are, after all, public radio consumers. What we really want to know is: What will the economic impact of the royal birth be on the U.K. economy?

EPI

That's the estimate for a family made up of two parents and two kids.

The numbers are calculated by the Economic Policy Institute, a progressive think tank based in Washington D.C.

You can look up your specific living situation with their updated "Family Budget Calculator."

EPI says the calculator estimates the annual income a family needs for a "secure yet modest living standard."

It estimates expenses related to housing, food, child care, transportation, health care, other necessities, and taxes. And by their calculations, families at the poverty level set by the federal government are nowhere near the EPI's "getting by" threshold.

The budgets, updated for 2013, are calculated for 615 U.S. communities and six family types (either one or two parents with one, two, or three children)...EPI’s family budgets offer a higher degree of geographic customization and provide a more accurate measure of economic security. In all cases, they show families need more than twice the amount of the federal poverty line to get by.

Of the 20 areas the EPI examined in Michigan, the Ann Arbor area came out on top as the most expensive place to live.  Rural Michigan was the least expensive.

Here's a look at the Michigan areas EPI put into their calculator, from most expensive to least expensive (for two-parent, two-child families):

Unemployment line in California
Michael Raphael / Flickr

Economic development leaders in Michigan like to talk about the number of manufacturing jobs created in the state in the last couple of years. But Michigan is not keeping up with the job growth of some other states as the nation recovers from the Great Recession.

It's Thursday, which means we talk to Daniel Howes, business columnist with the Detroit News.

Howes joined us today to discuss Michigan’s anemic job growth.

Listen to the full interview above.

Job search seminar in Ohio
flickr user Daniel Johnson / Flickr

The Snyder administration has maintained its "relentless positive action" to reinvent Michigan. Lansing restructured taxes to give businesses better than a billion dollar tax break to encourage job growth in Michigan, and Gov. Snyder approved the right to work law which proponents insist will bring jobs to Michigan.

There has been some growth in jobs, but it’s been kind of anemic.

Charles Ballard, a professor of economics at Michigan State University, and Rick Haglund, a freelance writer for Bridge Magazine, MLive, and a blogger at MichEconomy.com, joined us today to discuss the issue. 

Listen to the full interview above.

NASA

The term "economy" is used constantly in news stories or opinion pieces about Michigan, its trials and tribulations, its budding recovery.

But John Austin would like to get us all thinking about the "blue economy," the one that is based on the Great Lakes and water-related industry.

John is the director of the Michigan Economic Center, which is affiliated with the Prima Civitas Foundation, and he joined us in the studio today.

Listen to the full interview above.

It wouldn't be summer without a search for Jimmy Hoffa. We spoke with Michigan Radio's Jack Lessenberry about why we're still fascinated by the Hoffa disappearance all these years later.

And, we talked about the huge economic changes to mid-America with the author of the new book, "Nothin' But Blue Skies: the Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland."

And, Donna Posont, the director of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, joined us to discuss her group’s new project, Michigan Birdbrains.

Also, a diver found a bottle containing a message from nearly 100 years ago at the bottom of the St. Clair River. He joined us to talk about his discovery.

First on the show, the term “economy” is used constantly in news stories or opinion pieces about Michigan, its trials and tribulations, its budding recovery.

But John Austin would like to get us all thinking about the "blue economy," the one that is based on the Great Lakes and water-related industry.

John is the director of the Michigan Economic Center, which is affiliated with the Prima Civitas Foundation, and he joined us in the studio today.

Photo courtesy of the University of Michigan

Michigan’s three biggest universities are producing young entrepreneurs twice as fast as the national average.

That’s according to a report by East Lansing-based Anderson Economic Group released today at a conference of business leaders and politicians on Mackinac Island.

Debbie Dingell is chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

“What’s clear is that we in Michigan have young people with ideas, and we’re giving them a university system that’s giving them the tools that they need to actually go out and start that business,” said Debbie Dingell, chair of the Wayne State University Board of Governors.

The report says almost half of the new businesses started by college grads have been started or acquired in Michigan.

University officials say they’ve revamped their curriculum in recent years to encourage entrepreneurship among students.

Foreclosed house in Ypsilanti Township
Rebecca Williams / The Environment Report

Opponents of a plan to change the foreclosure process in Michigan say it would put more people out of their homes and hurt property values.

They were in Lansing today to protest a package of bills in the state Legislature.

The legislation would shorten the amount of time homeowners have to stop a bank foreclosure from six months to two months.

Ingham County Register of Deeds Curtis Hertel Jr. says banks have wrongly foreclosed on thousands of properties across the state.

He says it often takes months for people to prove they don’t deserve to lose their home.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Chris Gautz, the Capitol Correspondent for Crains Detroit Business, spent hours this morning at the Capitol where the state’s Revenue Estimating Conference took place.

That's where lawmakers, budget officials, and economists come together to make their best educated guess about the future of the state’s economy, and check-in, basically, on the state’s finances.

Political observers, and "political nerds" (like our Executive Producer Zoe Clark), love these meetings.

For others, however, it’s hard to get super excited about hours of numbers, finances, and "economist-speak."

Chris Gautz joined us today in the studio.

Listen to the full interview above.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Economists say Michigan's economy is turning around for the fourth straight year in part because the housing sector is on the mend.

University of Michigan experts told state lawmakers Wednesday that employment grew significantly faster in the past two years than previously estimated.

Michigan's unemployment rate dropped 1.3 percentage points in 2012 and is expected to continue gradually declining.

The downside is the state's jobless rate is high, above where it was before the national downturn in the economy in 2008.

Alan Cleaver / Flickr

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Gov. Rick Snyder and lawmakers don't agree on how much money to set aside in Michigan's savings account.

The rainy day fund was nearly empty when the Republican governor took office after a decade of job losses and budget crises. He successfully built it back up to more than $500 million and is hoping to add another $75 million.

Snyder says a healthy cash reserve is good for the state's credit rating and prudent in case there are future economic downturns.

But the GOP-led Senate next week is expected to approve a budget without extra money in the account. Some legislators say savings are robust and the $75 million should go to other priorities instead.

The House is more in line with Snyder. Lawmakers will negotiate their differences next month.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan was recently ranked fifth on USA Today's list of craft brew states in the country.

Over the past three to four years Michigan has seen a large growth in microbrewies.

There has been recent  buzz within the microbrewery scene in Michigan with news that the state's first 'Mobile Canning' line is being launched.

Microbreweries around the state will be able to get cans of their brew onto store shelves without having to invest in costly canning equipment.

montgomeryconsultinginc.com

It has been a challenging few years for nonprofit groups in Michigan. Whether they depended on private donations or corporate donations or both, the Great Recession hurt organizations all over the state.

But as our state gradually recovers, so are the nonprofits, especially in certain areas of Michigan.

Montgomery Consulting of Huntington Woods is out with a new survey of fundraising conditions in Michigan.

It gives us a quick look at who's on the rebound and who is still struggling.

Today Michael Montgomery joins us from Huntington Woods. He gives us a look at Michigan's regions and where nonprofits are doing the best in terms of meeting their fundraising goals.

He also gives us some tips for those who run nonprofits in Michigan and people who are prospective donors.

http://rsqe.econ.lsa.umich.edu

Today, the annual Washtenaw County Outlook event will bring  economists, businesses, and government officials together to address the current and future economic prospects for the county.

Lizzy Alfs of AnnArbor.com reports many were surprised to hear an economic forecast that Washtenaw County is expected to increase its job growth.

Carlos Lowry / Flickr

The clouds have been lifting for  U.S. car makers.

With car sales and America's economy picking up, there are some who are looking further down the road.

They have been wondering  if deeper, bigger challenges lie ahead for the companies who put the world on wheels.

One of those wondering is automotive writer Micki Maynard. She recently published a couple of pieces in Forbes Magazine exploring what she calls "The Secret Fear of the World's Biggest Auto Companies".

Micki Maynard spoke with us to explain exactly what is the "Secret Fear" of the World's Biggest Auto Companies.

To hear the full story click the audio link above.

FLINT, Mich. (AP) - University of Michigan economists are predicting job growth for the region including Genesee, Lapeer, Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair and Shiawassee counties.

George Fulton and Don Grimes of the Ann Arbor school's Institute for Research on Labor, Employment, and the Economy said the areas will gain more than 76,000 jobs this year through 2015. They issued the annual forecast Thursday for the Economic Growth Alliance, a partnership that includes the counties.

They say the region will add 17,600 jobs this year, 27,200 jobs in 2014 and 31,600 jobs in 2015. That comes after a gain of nearly 75,000 jobs over the past three years.

Fulton and Grimes say that the job growth will be accompanied by slowly declining unemployment and relatively tame inflation.

Today on Stateside, Michiganders, you have spoken.

A new report is out today about how you think we can move the economy forward.

We'll find out more on today's show, and we'll speak to a former University President who says universities themselves might be contributing to some of the economic crunch they're facing.

But in the first part of our show, we turn to the question of just how much support the state of Michigan should give to the film industry and filmmakers.

Governor Snyder's recent budget proposal contained $25 million in tax credits for film makers. That's a 50 percent cut from the present  film credit cap of $50 million, and some lawmakers, including Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville, a fellow Republican, say that is one bad plan that he says will drive the film industry out of Michigan.

Um-Smart.org

There is certainly no shortage of reporting, discussion and conversation about what should happen to breath new life into Michigan's economy.

Most of this conversation seems to revolve around the thought of legislatures, policy makers, and Governor Snyder.

But what do Michiganders think should happen to help restore the economy and what do you want to see as a Michigan citizen?

New export finance center opens in Detroit

Jan 30, 2013
Export-Import Bank of the United States

Earlier this week, Gov. Rick Snyder, Senator Debbie Stabenow and nearly 100 small business owners were in Detroit for the opening of a new regional office for the Export-Import Bank of the United States.

The new office is expected to help Michigan businesses export products overseas by providing access to various types of insurance, loans, and financial resources.

According to their website, the agency has helped generate $456 billion in export revenue since its creation by Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1934.

Elizabeth Lienau / Grand Valley State University

Economists predict the economy in West Michigan will grow at a slow but steady pace this year.

“I mean we’re really looking at another year that feels like last year which isn’t so bad,” Paul Isley, chair of Grand Valley State University’s Seidman College of Business, said.

“We're growing here in West Michigan. We have a potential that by the end of this year at least some areas of West Michigan will finally be above, employment wise, where we were in 2000, which will be really a hallmark,” Isley said.

user DeeMusil / Wikimedia Commons

Coming off two good earnings reports, the Compuware Company announced today it rejected a takeover bid by a hedge fund company.

More from JC Rendl of the Detroit Free Press

Flint contemplates its future, through planning

Jan 22, 2013
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The City of Flint is hosting a public forum this evening to discuss its plan for the future.

"This is a chance for a lot of the political leaders and some community people to lay out the process and to get additional information from the audience," said Michael Kelly of the Flint Area Public Affairs Forum. He says the forum will allow city leaders to talk  about assets and challenges that face the city.

Green confidence at the North American International Auto Show

Jan 15, 2013
Cars.com

With the Detroit International Auto Show only just beginning, GM and Chrysler are already receiving good news.

This year's North American Car of the Year award went to the Cadillac ATS, while Truck of the Year was awarded to the Dodge Ram 1500.

According to Bernard Swiecki with the Center for Automotive Research, these awards are more significant in their effects on confidence, rather than their impact on sales.

"Interestingly, both of these vehicles are built in Michigan, so there's a very real local connection there as well. This is kind of an endorsement that both of these critical vehicles were done right by the engineering teams. "

Swiecki mentions that confidence is shown not only in the vehicles, but in the atmosphere of this year's Detroit Auto Show, and is a clear departure from the austerity of the post-bailout shows of the past.

"In the 2009 and 2010 shows, there was almost an atmosphere of allaying the fears that 'We're not going to be here next year', and that's really not the case anymore, and it hasn't been for the last two or three years. Now it's more about a confident approach, showing future products with every certainty that 1) the companies are viable and 2) the products themselves are world-class," he said.

These American vehicles are world-class, and green, according to Swiecki, who claims that green-technology continues to be a pronounced trend in new American vehicles, such as Cadillac's luxurious take on the Chevy Volt. Green technology is even moving across vehicle platforms this year to trucks with Ford's Atlas Pickup concept, which will eventually become the next generation Ford F-150.

Stateside: Concerned residents and their neighborhood improvements

Jan 8, 2013
http://www.grandmontrosedale.com/business.html

Detroit's revitalization is a recurring topic on Stateside.

The city's vacant buildings are an interactive lesson in real estate and community maintenance.

Today, Stateside focused on neighborhood improvement and community engagement.

Heidi Alcock of the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign and Tom Goddeeris of the Grandmont Rosedale Development Corporation shared their revitalization goals.

Alcock started the Detroit Vacant Property Campaign to reduce the amount of abandoned buildings in Detroit- improving both property value and morale.

“One vacant property can be very dangerous on an otherwise stable block,” said Alcock.

“Beginning with the mortgage foreclosure crisis we’ve seen vacancy rate go from about 2% in 2000 to 11% in 2010. Probably the biggest impact it’s had on our community is that it has driven values down,” said Goddeeris.

Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The impact of economic problems are often likened to waves. And the waves of Michigan's economic crisis are still rolling up onto the shores in cities around the state.

The Detroit News looked at the numbers of police cuts and how communities react to these cuts.

The data from the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards show that since 2003, the state has lost more than 2,000 police positions in total.

Communities react to the cuts by completely disbanding their departments, as Pontiac did, or by trying to raise more revenue.

But as the events in the struggling city of Benton Harbor show, residents are not always willing to tax themselves more to keep their police departments intact.

From the Detroit News:

david_shane / flickr

Dozens of State Police have gathered in a hallway in the Capitol’s lower level, cordoned off by blue curtains. This is their base of operations in the building this week as hundreds – maybe thousands - of protesters are expected to fill the upper levels.

In one closet, police have stashed helmets and other riot gear.

Capitol Facilities Director Steve Benkovsky hopes the demonstrations will stay peaceful.

"Everybody has a right to come in here and voice their opinion. And we'll deal with it the best we can and let them voice their opinion," said Benkovsky.

State and local police plan to close a number of streets around the state Capitol.

They will also limit the number of people allowed in the building.

Rick Pluta/MPRN

One thing I know about politically polarizing issues: arguing for middle-of-the-road positions alienates a lot of folks.

But here goes anyway.

I don’t love unions.

And I feel I can say that with some authority, given that as an employee of several media companies, I’ve been a member of three of them.

In every case, I felt unions were so concerned about protecting territory, that they were, at times, anti-progressive, and too often in the business of preserving their power.

I couldn’t touch equipment.

I was prevented from developing technical skills I would have been wise to learn.

Later in my career, when I worked at non-union shops, I was glad that, if I wanted to try something new, I could.

Now, that may seem like a funny way for me to argue that right-to-work laws are a bad idea, but that’s where I’m going with this.

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